University undergraduate enrollment increases slightly

By Allana Akhtar, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 20, 2014

The University’s undergraduate enrollment increased slightly this year, according to figures released early Monday morning.

Undergraduate enrollment for fall 2014 totaled 28,395 students, a 112-student increase from 2013. This year’s freshman class is comprised of 6,505 students, 4.5 percent more last fall. The University also received a record-breaking 49,776 freshman applications, which represents a 6.3-percent increase since 2013.

Though undergraduate students make up most of the University’s enrollment, totaling about 65.1 percent of the overall student population, 43,625 students are currently enrolled, representing an 85-student drop from 2013. The University enrolled 15,230 graduate students this year, 197 fewer than last year.

Underrepresented minority students make up 10 percent of this year’s freshman class, a slight decline from 10.6 percent in fall 2013. However, the number of underrepresented minority students in the freshman class has remained roughly the same because this year’s larger class size caused their percentage to decline.

Over the summer, the University appointed Kedra Ishop as associate vice president for enrollment management, a new position designed to increase coordination and communication between the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of the Registrar and the Office of New Student Programs.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Ishop said she attributed the increase in undergraduate enrollment figures to the University’s high ranking compared to other universities, saying many similar institutions have seen a declining number of applicants in recent years.

“Michigan has always had this allure for applicants and I think it’s evidenced by the increasing number of applications,” she said.

Last year, members of the Black Student Union called on the University administration to adopt several measures to foster inclusion on campus and improve diversity, including a demand to increase Black enrollment to 10 percent of the overall student population. This year, Black students make up 4.63 percent of the graduate and undergraduate student body, according to data provided by the Office of the Registrar. Enrollment percentages for Hispanic and Native American students are 5.14 percent and .21 percent, respectively.

Figures provided by the Office of Budget and Planning are slightly larger, since they break down a federal category that separates students who identify as more than one race. This data set shows the University’s total Black enrollment is 5.8 percent.

In January, University Provost Martha Pollack announced a package of initiatives designed to address diversity and inclusion, including the creation of a new administrative position focused on increasing minority retention and recruitment.

But constrained in part by Proposal 2, the 2006 ballot initiative that banned the consideration of race in college admissions, among other factors, the University has struggled to increase minority enrollment. Black students made up 4.65 percent of the undergraduate population in fall 2013, compared to 7 percent in fall 2006. However, race and ethnicity reporting categories changed to comply with federal reporting guidelines after 2010, meaning the figures are not entirely comparable.

Ishop said there is still work to be done to improve racial diversity on campus, but added that the University is responding to student concerns by engaging them in conversation related to the admissions process.

Though she had faith in the University’s commitment to increasing diversity on campus, she said seeing results from the new initiatives and achieving racial diversity are part of an ongoing process.

“This is a long-term solution,” Ishop said. “It’s not just about bringing bodies to campus, but it’s about finding students who want to go to Michigan and engaging them on campus and making sure they have a positive and fruitful environment.”

For the eighth consecutive year, the University received a record number of applicants. The University accepted 15,985 students — approximately 32 percent of the students who applied — down rate about 1 percent from last year.

Though the University normally admits more students than it plans to enroll since many accepted students choose other schools, about 500 more students enrolled in this year’s entering class than University officials anticipated.

The over-enrollment also placed additional strain on University residence halls, causing a shortage of emergency housing.

Ishop said the University plans to curb enrollment over the next few years by limiting early admissions in order to accommodate for a potentially greater “yield,” the number of students who matriculate after being accepted to the University.

In response to growing enrollment numbers over the past decade, Pollack announced a plan at the Sept. 18 meeting of the University’s Board of Regents to reduce the size of future freshman classes, including a recommendation to shift more early applicants to the waitlist.

“We have been over-enrolling every year for the past five years and we have to stop this,” she said. “I'm not happy about it.”

“We have been over-enrolling every year for the past five years and we have to stop this,” she said. “I'm not happy about it.”

Daily News Editor Sam Gringlas contributed reporting.

The story has been updated to include an interview with the University's associate vice president for enrollment management and additional data from the enrollment report.

Correction appended: The headline and story was corrected to reflect undergraduate enrollment increased slightly, while total enrollment experienced a small decline.